Title of Project

Event Related Potentials as a Measure of Neural Inhibition Resulting from Bilingualism

Researcher Information

Alicia Harnisch
Daniela Padron

Project Type


Start Date

2011 12:00 AM

End Date

2011 12:00 AM

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

Event Related Potentials as a Measure of Neural Inhibition Resulting from Bilingualism

Research suggests that there is a link between bilingualism and neural inhibition. Findings reveal that bilinguals more efficiently and effectively switch between cognitive tasks and ignore irrelevant aspects of a stimulus than monolinguals. According to the Inhibitory Control model of bilingualism, a mechanism is in place which allows bilinguals to suppress one language while using the other. This mechanism also mediates non-linguistic inhibition, which allows bilinguals to outperform monolinguals on these tasks. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging studies comparing monolinguals and bilinguals on non-language tasks suggest that these two groups utilize different frontal lobe areas when performing non-language cognitive tasks. The frontal lobe is a mediator of working memory, cognitive flexibility, selective attention, and reasoning. Event-related potentials (ERP), are electrical potentials generated by a population of neurons in response to a stimulus that can be measured through an electroencephalogram. The N2 component of the ERP, a negative wave that begins ~200ms after the stimulus onset, has been linked to neural inhibition and the frontal lobes. Importantly, there has been no research investigating the correlation of the N2 component of the ERP to enhanced cognitive capabilities of bilinguals. We propose to measure the N2 component of the ERP while monolinguals and bilinguals perform non- linguistic cognitive tasks to directly correlate neural inhibition with bilingualism. We hypothesize that compared to monolinguals bilinguals will exhibit enhanced neural inhibition on non-linguistic tasks mediated by the frontal lobe.